A number of fans gathered at Demon Stadium Friday night, Nov. 8. The reason – to watch the Dumas Demons in the final game of the regular football season. The Demons went into the game with a 9-0 record. The Demons made history as they defeated the visiting Hereford Whitefaces and defended a perfect regular season record.
It has been 22 years since the Demons had an undefeated season. Now, on senior night, in front of the home crowd Dumas got the win, and for the third year in a row, Dumas became district champions.
Head coach Aaron Dunnam talked to his team after the game and told them how proud he was of them.
"That's unbelievable," Dunnam said. "I'm extremely emotional right now, because that's amazing what we just did. … You ought to feel really good about yourself too."
Additionally, he addressed the coaches.
"Coaches. Appreciate everything you've done to this point as well," he said. "That's special now. (I'm) really, really proud of you."
After the speech, Dumas Athletic Director Stan Stroebel presented Dunnam and the Dumas High School varsity football team with the district trophy. Many cheers and much exuberance followed.
The game was full of excitement, both on and off the field. The fans cheered. The players played. However, they more than played. They dominated. The team had a fire under them. They played with heart and determination. The Demons allowed some big plays, but stepped up when it counted and really took control of the game from the start.
Dumas scored first with 9:28 on the clock in the opening quarter. Bryan Mendoza ran the ball for seven yards for a score. Ah Lee Yart kicked the extra point and the Demons were on the board 7-0.
The defense held strong until a short pass resulted in a Hereford touchdown. The score was tied with 2:07 left in the first quarter.
The Demons had the ball at the end of the first and were driving until the clock expired and they exchanged sides. On the opening play of the second quarter, Cito Rodriguez rushed for a one-yard score. With 2:12 left in the half, Dumas put up another score as Spencer Williams connected with Louis Ortiz for a touchdown. Yart added the extra point and the Demons were up 21-7 at the half.
Dumas scored three times in the third quarter on a 21-yard Rodriguez run, an 18-yard catch and run by Kyle Stroebel, and on the leg of Yart, who kicked a 38-yard field goal to go up 38-7.
With 12 seconds left in the third, Hereford got on the board, but the point after attempt was no good and Dumas led 38-13 at the end of three.
Only one team scored in the final quarter. Rodriguez put Dumas on the board with a short rushing touchdown. Another point after by Yart and the Demons led 45-13, with 9:40 left in the game.
The Demons got the win and posted a perfect 10-0 season.
Williams finished the night 6-of-13 passing for 71 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. He also rushed for 45 yards on seven carries.
Rodriguez had 91 yards on nine carries. Mendoza picked up 83 yards on 13 touches. James Bednorz ran for 43 yards on seven carries. Also for the Demons, Damian Orozco had one carry for 23 yards, and backup quarterback Gustavo Sauzameda had one carry for a negative four yards. He also had one pass attempt in the game.
Receiving leaders for the Demons were Ortiz with 34 yards on two catches and one score, Orozco with two receptions for 22 yards and Kyle, who had an 18-yard reception for a touchdown.
Dumas ran 52 plays for 352 yards and held the ball only 21:46. The offense had zero turnovers and picked up 23 first downs. They converted 3-of-8 third downs and 1-of-2 fourth downs.
The Dumas defense held Hereford to 243 yards on offense and forced two turnovers. Hereford only converted 5-of-15 third downs and 1-of-1 fourth down attempts.
Charles Barnes led with seven tackles. Dallan Dill came in with six on the night for the Demons, as well as Caleb Suggs. Ah Lee Yart and Josh Turner each had five tackles. Four Demons came in with four tackles each – Cade Cox, Brayden Boggs-Rushing, Javier Martinez and Chris Delatorre. Also, Delatorre had three sacks. Mendoza, Bednorz, Cristian Carrera, Davin Gates and Diego Falcon had two tackles each. Roberto Ruiz, Broc Kinikin and Rodriguez each contributed a tackle in the win.
Yart was good for six extra points and a field goal. He punted twice for 36 yards.
Suggs had three punt returns for 11 yards. Martinez went for 93 yards on two kick returns, while Orozco had one kick return good for 25 yards.
Winning in front of the home crowd is always a rewarding feeling, but to be able to cap off a perfect season record, earn the district title, and head into postseason with this much confidence and excitement is something rare and special.
"I think it means everything," Dunnam said. "I just think it's validation of what we did. These kids always do everything we ask them to do. A lot of hard work has went into this from the coaching staff and the kids. … It's just validation for their hard work. These kids are very deserving of it. They deserve everything that they've got this far."
As he told the group of players after the game, the work is not done. They have more to accomplish.
"Wichita Falls Hirschi, extremely talented football team," he said. "They've got all kinds of talent, so we'll have to be ready."
Dunnam feels strongly about this team and is proud of how far they've come.
"I like what we're doing," he said. "I like what our kids are doing right now. And now the focus is jumping another hurdle."
That hurdle is getting through the first round of the playoffs. As they have done all season, they are going to take it one game at a time. It's time to put the energy into the bi-district round.
"Put all focus on it," he said. "… We knew it from the get-go. We knew when this year started that these kids were different. This coaching staff's different. I think we need to stay on that pathway. That this is different. We're not the teams that have come through here in the past that have failed in round one. That's gong to be our charge throughout the week as we prepare and put a game plan together."
Senior Kyle Stroebel was out for the first few weeks of the season. He was able to stand on the sideline and be a leader to watch his team grow.
"That time I was out, I was able to step back," Kyle said. "… I was able to make a different impact on the team. I was able to be a leader, and by doing that I was watching everybody grow up, to be able to step up when your number's called. I wouldn't trade it."
He feels the team has a chance against their next opponent.
"I'm pretty confident. If we keep up what we're doing, keep grinding, keep working hard, nothing's going to stop us," Kyle said.
One could feel the excitement in the air, the stands and the field after the game. And actually, through the city all week. It was a build up to this final game. The players can feel that too.
"It's huge," Kyle said. "The atmosphere and attitude of this town totally changes when the football team of that town is successful. It's a great feeling. Anywhere you go in town, someone's always talking about it."
Inside linebacker Cade Cox said it's always special to play in front of the hometown crowd and get a big win.
"It's huge," he said. "We haven't played at home in a month, so coming back home was kind of another homecoming for us. We just wanted to come out and make a show. We just do it for all the people in the stands that come and watch us. We feel it's a special place here."
He said they have put in a lot of work and effort and it shows.
"We just put in so much work and preparation. It pays off every week," Cox said.
Teammate Brayden Boggs-Rushing, outside linebacker, shares the thought about the supportive community and the work the players put in.
"We work so hard," he said. "Every summer we come here, and we got guys that buy in and we got guys that work all the time. It means everything to us. I know the community is on our side."
The defense has worked hard, but the offense has done its part as well all season. Boggs-Rushing said it has been a complete team effort. He also believe in the coaches, who support and work hard for the players.
"… We're disciplined. We work our butts off," Boggs-Rushing said. "We got to give all the credit to our coaches. They put out a game plan and we just execute it."
Williams feels like the work they are doing now will also help for the future of the program.
"It's laying the foundation for the grades that are below us," he said. "It's building up a better program."
Dumas will travel to Lubbock to face off against their next opponent – Wichita Falls Hirschi – on Friday, Nov. 15. The game is scheduled at Lowrey Field in Plains Capital Park at 4 p.m.